T-Phone

The farm was hot and full of bugs. Maybe the ecosystem wasn’t quite balanced yet, or the ladybugs were of a lethargic species, and the mosquitoes of a dynamic one, for the latter were winning hands down. The forest was cooler, with widely spaced Arcadian Firs. Their branches captured much of the light, which meant less vegetation on the forest floor, and thus fewer bugs. Bobby dozed in the forest daily from twelve to four.

On days off he’d visit Alan and Patricia, who said they’d lived in the valley for one hundred years. Alan was a prehistoric geek, obsessed by communications. He captured local transmissions via an antenna, many miles long, strung between firs.

“You always seem so happy together,” Bobby said to Patricia as she poured him Lady Grey Tea. She’d said it was a perfectly refreshing afternoon tea, which she preferred to the floral taste of Earl Grey. “What’s your secret? Is it just your time spent together? A hundred years in the forest has surely drawn you closer. Or is it something else?”

“Alan says that we are in tune. We have the same frequency. Do you know the difference between AM and FM radio signals? You don’t? Well, AM means Amplitude Modulation. The size of the waves rises and falls, conveying the information necessary to transmit a message. FM is totally different. It stands for Frequency Modulation. The size of the waves is constant but the distance between them changes, which conveys information. Well, Alan says that he is AM and I am FM, but we’re in tune with each other. It doesn’t really make…”

“Hello again, young man!” said Alan, bursting into the room. “So good to see you. How’s your teatime? You like it? Good, good.”

Patrician poured him a cup too. There was no need for her to ask him, as she was in tune.

“Has she told you about my new invention? I can tell him, can’t I, love?” Patricia nodded. “It’s the T-Phone!” He pulled out a mobile phone as big as a brick. Bobby had last seen one of those in the 1980s. Was Alan that much behind the times?

Alan smiled and said, “I know it’s not much to look at, but wait till I show you what it can do.”

Bobby said, “Please do.”

“I’ve tried various forms of information propagation – AM, FM – I heard Patricia telling you about those – and SSB, TETRA, amateur radio, unlicensed radio, even radio control, but they have never conveyed all the information encoded. There is always loss.” He stopped for a moment. “And digital information is even worse; its binary form removes gradation.”

Alan tinkered with the brick-sized phone. “Do you know Instagram? Well, what that does for your photos, the T-Phone does for your voice. It enriches the frequencies, avoids noise, and prevents fading. It creates a richer sound.”

“Why is it called the T-Phone?” asked Bobby.

“Because the technology it uses is Telepathy. There is no physical transfer, thus there is no resistance and loss. The T-Phone uses silence as a means of communication. Everything is contained within it.”

Bobby noticed that Alan said these last words without his lips moving.

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